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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Republican Wedgie

by digby

I understand that a lot of this posturing about bipartisanship is kabuki. (Dday unpacks the unfortunate results of it brilliantly, here.) But if I may indulge in a little bit of partisan rancor for a moment, may I just say how galling it is to have to listen to a whining, wingnut conman like Mike Pence wax on about his support for the president's call for bipartisanship?

It literally makes me nauseous when I hear this:

Andrea Mitchell: What did you hear in that meeting that indicated any flexibility on core issues for you?

Pence: I think the most important thing about today was not what we heard but what we saw. And what we saw was a democratic president of the United States come in in an unstructured environment and he spoke for about ten or fifteen minutes and then he took more than a half hour of questions from members. And he heard the concerns of House members about the spending in this bill, he heard our proposals to add more tax relief for working families and small business owners and he responded in an extemporaneous way to all the comments and all the questions. As I told him we are grateful and the door of our conference will remain open.

But I also told him ,as I just said, at this point, the House Democrats on capital Hill have complete ignored President Obama's call for a bipartisan compromise on this bill. Tomorrow's bill will not reflect any negotiation between the parties on Capital Hill and I think tha'ts regrettable because the tone the president set today was very different.

Mitchell: Well there have certainly been a couple of signals from senator Reid on the Senate side that they're willing to do more talking and permit amendments on the floor. But you're correct that the House Democrats have not been, and we were with barney frank earlier, and he was making the point that elections really do have consequences and that philosophically, they disagree with your positions. That the free market approach, lack of regulation, all of the allegation of abuse is why we have reached this point.

Pence: Sure, you know, I have great respect for Chairman franks and I have great respect for that kind of a partisan attitude, but I don't think that's where the American people are at right now, Andrea. I think the American people are hurting, many people have lost their jobs,many millions more are worried they're going to be next and they want all the best ideas regardless lof party politics to be brought to the table, debated in the light of day and to bring forward a truly bipartisan compromise. But we have to see a different attitude than we're seeing from Democrats.

I wanted the president to know we were grateful for him coming by and his graciousness. We take his desire to reach out to house Republicans as genuine but we're just not seeing any of that attitude, as you can see from Chairman Frank's comments, and the American people deserve to know that.

I know it's just politics, but I'm human and it makes me see red. Which is what they want, of course.

You have to give them credit. When it comes to wedge politics nobody does it better and they are attempting to drive a big fat wedge between Obama and his party using Obama's own rhetoric to do it. I assume the administration understands this, but I'm not sure the public or the villagers get it. The Democrats in congress have to publicly eat shit, liberal activists get angry at Obama for kissing Republicans asses and Democratic voters in general get mad at the partisan Democrats in congress. (All they hear is that the Democrats are failing to fulfill Obama's vision, which, coming from Republicans is absurd, but sounds plausible in this allegedly post-partisan utopia.) In this case, the Democrats really haven't been stabbing Obama in the back, but the Republicans are making it look like they are.

With the help of the brain dead media herd may, this wedge may very well end up both influencing the administration to capitulate beyond what is reasonable (as they did with the contraception hissy fit) and creating the impression that the bill is bad because Democrats are spendthrifts who insist upon shoving their socialist agenda down the throat of the nice popular president against his will.

Maybe it's worth it to Obama to triangulate on this, but the political price down the road could be quite high. If the economy turns around sharply by 2012, it may not matter. But if there's any residual effect, it's Democrats who are being set up as the villains. Therefore, no matter what anyone says, the policy must be good if there is any chance of success both for the party and the country. Watering it down purely for the sake of bipartisanship, as dday argued below, is therefore useless.